CHICAGO (CBS) — A Chicago nurse assigned to a COVID-19 care unit is pleading for you to stay home. She says the majority of nurses on her shift have been forced to miss time for health reasons since the pandemic began.

She says at the start of the pandemic she was simply on an observation team, but as the COVID-19 crisis ramped up, so did her role.

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“It’s difficult for us,” said Cynthia Meza, a registered nurse at UI Health. “It’s difficult for patients. It’s difficult for everybody.”

The indents on Meza’s face are reminders of how hard she has been working and how harsh the virus has been on the nurses at UI Health, specifically her COVID care wing.

“We have been hit pretty hard,” she said. “Because we weren’t sure how to deal with it at the very beginning, we got exposed.”

She says she is one of three nurses who managed to stay healthy out of the roughly 24 nurses on her shift. Some are out because they have tested positive for COVID-19. Others are monitoring symptoms.

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“I feel most comfortable at work right now because nobody knows what we are going through except ourselves,” she said. “I’ve seen some patients almost three to four weeks, so yeah if we develop a relationship, I want to see them do good. I want fight for them. I want them to get better.”

At University of Chicago Medicine, more than 30 nurses have tested positive for COVID-19.

“The sickest people in Chicago are now being cared for in a unit that is understaffed and overworked,” said Cassandra Callaway, a registered nurse at University of Chicago Medicine.

But Meza isn’t pointing the finger or placing blame. She’s proud of the nurses she goes to battle with, but she is asking for one favor.

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“I don’t need the recognition,” she said. “I don’t need to be called a hero. What I need, what I want is for people to just comply and keep following these rules that are in place.”

Charlie De Mar